iVote an ambitious idea

It began with the notion that the average citizen is not well-informed or well-educated enough to make the best decision as to who should be President. In addition, smaller states were afraid their votes would be crushed by the bigger states. In 1787, this was a very valid fear. Now, in these days of Red vs. Blue, states are not at odds over their respective sizes, but color-coded leaning. Do the people suffer? Do the Powers-That-Be still think we’re all a bunch of nitwits?

I imagine they do. There’s plenty of evidence to support that. Whether the average person is intelligent or our current system also suggests that politicians know what we need better than we do which is not exactly a good argument for this being a truly free country, by the people, for the people.

After all, the people do not directly vote for the electors. “The process for selecting Electors varies throughout the United States. Generally, the political parties nominate Electors at their State party conventions or by a vote of the party’s central committee in each State. Each candidate will have their own unique slate of potential Electors as a result of this part of the selection process.” (U.S. Electoral College)

Once voted in, electors are already devoted to a particular candidate. Essentially, the amount of electors for any particular state decides pre-election day who will win in the EC. Hence the projections we see on the news.

What this means is ominous. It means you had better have a perfect love and perfect trust relationship with any candidate that gets your vote. The argument is that your horse will vote exactly the way you did; who is going to vote out of their party? The counter-argument is that your vote for other elected officials is really your vote for president and you cannot trust them to honor your wishes. Looking at how often politicians renege on fulfilling their promise to honoring your wishes it is chilling to think that pols can trump your vote for President if they see fit.

When voting against the main guy in your state (i.e. against Obama in IL, or Romney in TN) you risk having your vote discounted by an electorate. There is no federal mandate saying any elector must cleave to their pledge to a candidate. One hopes that they do and trying to argue that they don't is audacious and maybe a little dangerous these days. But the possibility exists.

Knowing this, it is hard to say whether or not your vote really counts when you vote for the underdog in your state. To be fair, you may be able to trust your home state as many states require that electors vote in favor of the popular vote.

Many have asked me who the electors are, feeling that these pols can be compared to the Gideons who place Bibles in hotel rooms; unseen, unheard. This is not exactly true. They tend to be chosen for years of excellent service to one or the other political party. The standard for excellence is not necessarily decided by the public, however. We don’t really know what makes these people worthy of such an apparently exalted position. We are never told who the electors are and thus have no basis for comparison.

According to history, ninety-nine percent of electors vote as they have pledged which is in turn meant to represent the way you voted when you placed your officials who will pick these electors in office. Simple enough, right? Many claim to have a basic understanding of the institution.

But for some it is not so simple: “There is little question that the American public would prefer to dismantle the Electoral College system, and go to a direct popular vote for the presidency. In Gallup polls that stretch back over 50 years, a majority of Americans have continually expressed support for the notion of an official amendment of the U.S. Constitution that would allow for direct election of the president.” (Gallup)

Americans have been asking this question for over fifty years. One of the earliest times it was a point of contention was in 1944, during the fourth Roosevelt run. Then and in subsequent times, polled Americans agree that the Electoral College should be either amended or done away with entirely. It would be a hellish and expensive fight to create any change in this regard and this causes many people to back down from their desire to see the popular vote have more say in who is President.

The popular opinion: Without the Electoral College, there would be a massive fifty state election that could get more than ugly. It would be a psychotic flood of utter chaos. If a recount was needed the precincts and states, the whole country in fact, would not know where to begin. There is the apprehension of having year-long, abysmal counting jags resulting from any close race. It would be tiresome, and leave the nation too long without knowing who won the presidency.

So. It is better to have a vote that maybe counts instead of the chaos that would result from having a new system put in place, a system based entirely on the popular vote. Perhaps. But we are a country of solutions, right?

We are supposed to be, even though currently we are a country of self-righteous, useless mouths. Social media makes this fact more than evident. Take a look around. Everybody's talking at the same time, and everyone thinks they are right. Fuck what you say. Fuck what they say. Fuck what we all say. You want to talk about Fear and Loathing, here it is, folks, the great American You're-Wrong Fuckety Fuck.

Supposing this is wrong and America is still a country of solutions, I would, as a citizen, like to present one.

The eVote. Why the hell not? Everyone already trusts all of their personal information, workplace information, and bank accounts to eShit. Even J.P. Fatback, who would be nothing without money, (it’s not like he can fight) isn’t afraid of the hackers that threaten to rape anyone’s life on any given day. That being the case, why not trust your vote to a computerized system based entirely on the popular vote that does the counting electronically?

“The hacker will steal or adjust my vote!” you cry. Well, hackers can do that to your money right now. But that doesn’t bother you. After all, your vote pays your bills, right? According to many in America, it does, but if I tried to take my vote to Cricket and offer it as payment for my phone bill, they would not even take me seriously. Your vote in this case would be as safe as your financial umbilical cord is right now.

Someone told me the burghers would not go for an electronic voting system because the hoi-polloi enjoys being seen at the polls, doing their patriotic duty. The person was joking, but I had to wonder how many Americans would despise an eVote system for this very reason. We as a people like everyone to know that we’ve done our duty. We are proud. And we get the “I VOTED” sticker, which states: “I’M AWESOME”. If they were using their phones to vote, they would not get this tiny albeit illustrious adornment.

What the individual would get in trade for that sticker is an app that would make voting very convenient and easy. No one would have to drive from one polling place location to the next, trying to figure out at which goddamn district they are supposed to be. They would not make it to one district only to hear: “Sorry bubba, you’re out. You can’t vote here. You have to go there.” They would also be relieved of the painful desire to throttle the bearers of this bad news, and some voters would actually manage voting instead of going home because they have work in the morning, and thus no time to drive from district to district in seek of the proper polling spot.

An eVote is the inevitable wave of the future. It may take twenty years or so to institute. I may very well be an old man before the app comes out, but it will, of that I have no doubt. People are afraid of it now, but some people fear any new thing, and there will be much debate over it, the same sort of debate we have now over Green Power.

To allay fears lawmakers could decree hacking the electronic vote an Act of Treason, and thus punishable by death. Use the firing squad (that should appease the gun folks). Why not? Laws are made to enforce stupider things with great force. Take a look at the Patriot Act and its history in use if you need an example of how.

Whimsy: We could call it the iVote and satisfy both Apple, who wants world domination, and the sense of pride in citizen’s hearts. iVote? Yes! iVote! I can see the commercials now, can’t you?

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  • I don't see why it wouldn't be feasible now, at least to "elect the electors." After all, the mess in Florida put the 2000 election into the balance, and it looks as though Florida still can't get its stuff together. As you note, bank transactions are secure now.

    You mention some patriotic obligation to appear at the polls, but with all the mail-in ballots and early voting, people don't show up at the polling place at the rate they did. Oregon has a system where all voting is by mail and a voter can request a ballot on line. Residual voting machines could be provided for those who don't have internet access and don't want to early vote.

    Abolishing the Electoral College is a separate question, that would require a constitutional amendment that would dilute some states' strength, but I see your point that the current system marginalizes the voters in most of the states.

  • ...but there was just an article in the Tribune that the Chicago Board of Elections didn't protect a database of poll workers. Maybe we can't trust the putzes, after all.

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    In reply to jack:

    Trusting pols is a little like skydiving. Sure, you more than likely won't die, but...maybe the parachute doesn't open and you splatter on the ground.

    An eVote is inevitable. I really believe that. We may as well consider it now while it can do the most good. Amending the Constitution to adjust or even abolish the EC would satisfy a lot of independents and regular folks.

    The two main parties would more than likely oppose it, at least for awhile. But then, who knows? The media hasn't suggested an eVote. As far as I know no one has. I thought I would. Seems kind of an obvious thing to create in this day and age.

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